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Against Road Tolls: The 407-ization of the daily commute

The following letter was written by CUPE Local 79 President Tim Maguire and sent to the City of Toronto’s Planning and Growth Management Committee. Modified versions were sent to the Chair of Metrolinx and the Premier of Ontario (posted subsequently). It expresses Tim’s views that road tolls are not a fair way to make up for funding shortfalls. This is a submission as part of the “Toronto Talks Transportation” process.

Rush-hourDear Councillor Milczyn and Members of the Planning and Growth Management Committee,

Re: The 407-ization of the daily commute

On behalf of twenty thousand members of CUPE Local 79 who are employed by the City of Toronto, Bridgepoint Hospital and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, I am writing to let you know of our strong opposition to two ideas: (1) road tolls on a possible selection of highways in the Toronto area, and (2) congestion charges in the city of Toronto.

The traffic problems being experienced in the Toronto area did not arise by pure chance. For the last six decades, local and regional planning authorities and politicians have joined with private industry to promote the construction of suburban family housing in and around Toronto. Everyone knew this meant that millions of ordinary Ontarians would commute to work in cars and would likewise rely on their cars to do their shopping and support their leisure activities. As a result, today roughly 1.7 million commuters in the Toronto census metropolitan area drive to and from work every weekday.

But the times, of course, are changing. Local 79 agrees that in the interests of society as a whole, Toronto-area commuters need to be given a choice between driving their cars, and a more socially efficient and environmentally sustainable alternative – public transit – that is of reasonably equivalent convenience and comfort to driving. In keeping with this, Local 79 supports the idea that public transit in and around Toronto needs to be greatly expanded and improved.

That will require massive capital investment, and, naturally, such investment will require a variety of funding sources that are sustainable. But Local 79 believes that the mix of funding sources to be chosen must also be fair.

Levying road tolls or congestion charges would not be fair. Both would cause a sudden leap in the cost of living for drivers who opted to incur the cost, forcing them to tighten their spending on other items.

Many other drivers, seeking to avoid the tolls or charges, would change their habitual routes from the newly tolled highways to regional roads, urban arterials and local streets, generating worse congestion, frustration, and loss of time for themselves and their fellow drivers.

Still others, unable to afford the tolls or charges, would be forced to switch to the public transit system, which, as already noted, is currently insufficient.

In other words, the quality of life of millions of Ontarians would be dealt an undeserved blow. There would be nothing fair about that at all.

A transportation review is presently being conducted by Metrolinx in parallel to your own. Local 79 will naturally be making known our strong opposition to the 407-ization of the daily commute and to congestion charges, in that forum. We will also be expressing our views in a variety of other public forums. I urge you to oppose road tolls and congestion charges as well, and not to include them in any funding scenarios that you might ultimately decide to recommend to the public or to higher levels of government.

Yours truly, 

Tim Maguire
President

Cc:       Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner & Executive Director, City Planning


Dear Mr. Prichard (Chair of Metrolinx),

A submission as part of the “Big Move” consultation process

On behalf of twenty thousand members of CUPE Local 79 who are employed by the City of Toronto, Bridgepoint Hospital and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, I am writing to let you know of our strong opposition to two ideas: (1) road tolls on a possible selection of highways in the Toronto area, and (2) congestion charges in the city of Toronto.

The traffic problems being experienced in the Toronto area did not arise by pure chance. For the last six decades, local and regional planning authorities and politicians have joined with private industry to promote the construction of suburban family housing in and around Toronto. Everyone knew this meant that millions of ordinary Ontarians would commute to work in cars and would likewise rely on their cars to do their shopping and support their leisure activities. As a result, today roughly 1.7 million commuters in the Toronto census metropolitan area drive to and from work every weekday.

But the times, of course, are changing. Local 79 agrees that in the interests of society as a whole, Toronto-area commuters need to be given a choice between driving their cars, and a more socially efficient and environmentally sustainable alternative – public transit – that is of reasonably equivalent convenience and comfort to driving. In keeping with this, Local 79 supports the idea that public transit in and around Toronto needs to be greatly expanded and improved.

That will require massive capital investment, and, naturally, such investment will require a variety of funding sources that are sustainable. But Local 79 believes that the mix of funding sources to be chosen must also be fair.

Levying road tolls or congestion charges would not be fair. Both would cause a sudden leap in the cost of living for drivers who opted to incur the cost, forcing them to tighten their spending on other items.

Many other drivers, seeking to avoid the tolls or charges, would change their habitual routes from the newly tolled highways to regional roads, urban arterials and local streets, generating worse congestion, frustration, and loss of time for themselves and their fellow drivers.

Still others, unable to afford the tolls or charges, would be forced to switch to the public transit system, which, as already noted, is currently insufficient.

In other words, the quality of life of millions of Ontarians would be dealt an undeserved blow. There would be nothing fair about that at all.

That is why Local 79 strongly opposes congestion charges and the 407-ization of the daily commute. I hope you will see fit to oppose them as well, and I urge you not to include road tolls or congestion charges in any funding scenarios that you might ultimately decide to recommend to the public or the Premier.

Yours truly, 

Tim Maguire
President


 

Dear Premier Wynne,

On behalf of twenty thousand members of CUPE Local 79 who are employed by the City of Toronto, Bridgepoint Hospital and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, I want to congratulate you and wish you well as you assume the Premiership of the Province.

You have spoken of a desire to get down to business immediately. I am therefore writing to let you know of our strong opposition to two ideas: (1) road tolls on a possible selection of highways in the Toronto area, and (2) congestion charges in the city of Toronto.

The traffic problems being experienced in the Toronto area did not arise by pure chance. For the last six decades, local and regional planning authorities and politicians have joined with private industry to promote the construction of suburban family housing in and around Toronto. Everyone knew this meant that millions of ordinary Ontarians would commute to work in cars and would likewise rely on their cars to do their shopping and support their leisure activities. As a result, today roughly 1.7 million commuters in the Toronto census metropolitan area drive to and from work every weekday.

But the times, of course, are changing. Local 79 agrees that in the interests of society as a whole, Toronto-area commuters need to be given a choice between driving their cars, and a more socially efficient and environmentally sustainable alternative – public transit – that is of reasonably equivalent convenience and comfort to driving. In keeping with this, Local 79 supports the idea that public transit in and around Toronto needs to be greatly expanded and improved.

That will require massive capital investment, and, naturally, such investment will require a variety of funding sources that are sustainable. But Local 79 believes that the mix of funding sources to be chosen must also be fair.

Levying road tolls or congestion charges would not be fair. Both would cause a sudden leap in the cost of living for drivers who opted to incur the cost, forcing them to tighten their spending on other items.

Many other drivers, seeking to avoid the tolls or charges, would change their habitual routes from the newly tolled highways to regional roads, urban arterials and local streets, generating worse congestion, frustration, and loss of time for themselves and their fellow drivers.

Still others, unable to afford the tolls or charges, would be forced to switch to the public transit system, which, as already noted, is currently insufficient.

In other words, the quality of life of millions of Ontarians would be dealt an undeserved blow. There would be nothing fair about that, and a justifiable sense of resentment and betrayal could be expected to be widespread among the public in response.

Transportation reviews are presently being conducted by Metrolinx and by the City of Toronto. Local 79 will naturally be informing both of our opposition to the 407-ization of the daily commute and to congestion charges. We will also be expressing our views in a variety of public forums. But I am writing to you now because I anticipate the matter of road tolls and congestion charges will eventually end up on your desk for the final decision. I respectfully encourage you to look ahead to that moment and resolve ultimately to rule them out.

Yours truly, 

Tim Maguire
President 

Cc:       Tim Hudak, Leader of the Opposition
            Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party

 

 

 

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